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Becoming British? Navigating the Union of 1707

Becoming British? Navigating the Union of 1707

Murison, Barbara C. (University of Western Ontario)

International Review of Scottish Studies, Vol 36 (2011)

Abstract

A recent and extensive general literature exists on the acquisition and demonstration of a sense of ‘Britishness’ in the aftermath of the union of 1707. However, there are gaps in this literature, with few substantial case studies. This paper will take one Scottish family, the Humes of the Merse (Berwickshire) and use it as a lens through which to view the process of ‘Brittification’; the four main areas addressed will be the legal, religious and educational ramifications of union for ambitious Scots and the issue of self-identification.




On the eve of the union of 1707, the Earl of Cromarty sent New Year’s greetings to the Earl of Mar and his family in sunnily optimistic fashion: “God give all of you … Brittish minds. May we be Brittains, and down goe the old ignominious names of Scotland, of England … Brittains is our true, our honourable denomination.” The optimism, however, was unjustified; as Linda Colley and others have pointed out, a sense of “Britishness” cannot properly be discerned until much later in the eighteenth century; it turned out that, in the aftermath of 1707, it was perfectly possible to “meet the challenge of becoming British without ceasing to be Scottish.” A recent and extensive general literature exists on the processes (and the limitations of those processes) involved in the acquisition and demonstration of “Britishness,” whether in the political, religious, marital, linguistic or other spheres.

Click here to read this article from the International Review of Scottish Studies

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